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Fleury says he wants to end career with Golden Knights

33-year-old goalie can be unrestricted free agent in 2019, is eligible to sign extension July 1

by Danny Webster / Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- Marc-Andre Fleury said Friday he wants to play the rest of his career with the Vegas Golden Knights.

"It's weird, a year ago I was told I was getting too old to play. I still love it. I still have a lot of fun," the 33-year-old goalie said less than 24 hours after the Washington Capitals defeated the Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to win their first NHL championship. "Certainly, Vegas has given me this opportunity to do what I love, and I wouldn't want to go anywhere else, and hopefully I can finish my career here."


[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage]


Fleury is eligible to sign a contract extension July 1 and can become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

He was selected by Vegas from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL Expansion Draft on June 22, 2017. He went 29-13-4 in the regular season, when the Golden Knights won the Pacific Division, and 13-7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a 2.24 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in each.

"It was just so disappointing last night to have our season end," Fleury said. "It feels a little crazy that we're not playing anymore. … It's been a great season, a great experience, I'm proud to be a part of this team."

Vegas forward William Karlsson, who was third in the NHL with 43 goals after scoring six for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016-17, can become a restricted free agent July 1.

"We made it almost all the way and we are going to try to be better next year," the 25-year-old said. "That's our goal. I like the roster that we have, and we have the young prospects coming up too and it looks really good. So the future is bright."

The Golden Knights finished the regular season with the most points by an expansion team in NHL history (109), and then went 12-3 in the first three rounds of the playoffs to reach the Cup Final.

"Hopefully we can come back here," defenseman Colin Miller said. "It's not easy to really think in this conference and this league, you don't get too many opportunities. We want to have a team this competitive every year and we have a great group, so we need to keep doing that."

Video: WSH@VGK, Gm5: Fleury turns away Ovechkin's early bid

The top line of Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith combined for 213 points in the regular season and 58 in the playoffs.

Marchessault, who signed a six-year, $30 million contract Jan. 3, said he wants to continue playing with Karlsson.

"He did what he did because he's a great player," Marchessault said. "He's a guy that needs to get locked up."

The Golden Knights are facing decisions on forwards David Perron and James Neal, who each can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. 

Perron, 30, had an NHL career-high 66 points (16 goals, 50 assists) this season, but was in and out of the lineup in the playoffs, including as a healthy scratch in Game 4 of the Cup Final. He said he wants to remain with Vegas long term.

"It's important for me, with my family and kids, it's something that comes into play," Perron said. "There's different ways you can go about it, and if there's different ways they're willing to go, then we'll see.

"Why would I not want to stay? Playing with those guys ... it's amazing playing with those guys."

Neal, who turns 31 on Sept. 3, scored 25 goals, giving him 10 NHL seasons with at least 21. He was named to the NHL All-Star Game for the third time in his career. 

Video: The Golden Knights' future is bright

General manager George McPhee said there will be some changes.

"This team, not everyone will be back," he said. "We've all learned lessons over the years. You examine what happens in the salary cap world. You have to be smart about what you do and the contracts you're handing out."

Those likely to be back know the Golden Knights no longer will be the hunter, but the hunted as reigning Western Conference champions.

"I think it's about everyone taking that next step forward," rookie forward Alex Tuch said. "We had a pretty successful year, but there were times there was a little doubt. I think we have to get rid of that doubt. Confidence is key.

"Will [the team look] the same? I doubt it. If we lose a guy in free agency or whatever happens, we'll need guys who will have to step up, and that's the way it is."

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